Friday, June 14, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness Review: Sometimes the brightest lights are forged in the darkness

Overall score: 8.5 / 10

3D Review: This score reflects how good the 3D special effects are in the movie. 3/3 means it's absolutely mandatory to see it in 3D. Very rare, sadly. 1/3 means the 3D effects are superfluous and minimal (Star Wars 3D, I'm lookin' atchoo). 2/3 means you'll miss some interesting scenes if you see it sans 3D, but that it won't greatly detract from your viewing experience.

3D Score for Star Trek Into Darkness: 2/3. Why? There were 1 or 2 excellent 3D scenes, but the rest of the time the 3D didn't really "pop out" of the screen enough. A lot more could have been done with debris fields, spaceship battles, etc. and wasn't. 

Pros: Special effects, music, camerawork, innovative use of scenery.

Cons: Writing. A lot of the dialog was forced "I am your friend." (Really?) "I'm dying now. Let's hold hands". And the plot had several holes the size of a warp drive.

And now for the meat of the blog... The review.


Film review:

Sometimes the brightest lights are forged in the darkness. The story of Into Darkness focuses on teaching Captain Kirk some humility. Showing him that he is, indeed, fallible. And in so doing humbling him in the process. The film conveys this message aptly, if a bit obviously.
The special effects are top notch and worth the price of admission. This is definitely one of those movies I would say you could go to just to watch shit blow up. Notable scenes include Kirk & Khan jetting through a debris field comprised of the dead bodies of Enterprise crew members. The movie can be pretty dark, and I love that. Another notable special effects scene is at the very beginning, but it is so amazingly spectacular I'm not going to spoil it. All I'll say is pay close attention when Spock is inside the active, erupting volcano. Overall Special Effects Score: 9.75

The music is pretty much the same as it was in the original Star Trek, which is to say it's great. Orchestral music fits space really well, for some reason. Loved the music. Sound effects were great too. The voices were completely audible even during chaotic battle scenes with vast amounts of explosions. Overall Music & Sound Effects Score: 9

The writing however... Not so good is putting it lightly. Let's start with the dialog. So much of it is forced that it isn't even funny. Here's a note for new scriptwriters: Never have your characters say "I am your friend" or "I am dying now" or "This is goodbye -holds hands-". It's too obvious and cliche and it makes intelligent writers wince.  There are occasional excellent one liners though. I really liked when Kirk asked Khan "Are you ready?" And Khan replied "Are you?" This conveys the air and personality of Khan perfectly. That sense of superiority and knowing more than you're telling. More on that in a second though. Overall Dialog Score: 5.5

Plot writing. Oh, plot. Why did you have to be so silly. Why. Ok where to begin. There are massive spoilers here by the way so if you haven't watched the movie don't read this part. First off, Marcus's whole story was ridiculous. He was supposedly the head of Starfleet, and yet needed to build a military starship in secret? Why? If he truly feared an imminent war with the Klingons, all he needed to do was say that... He's the leader of Starfleet! Rally the people and build all the military vessels you need above board. "In the interests of national security" and all that. Why kill off your best crew and basically resurrect Adolph Hitler when you can just, you know, use the shipyards and fleet that you control?

Speaking of Adolph Hitler, let's talk about Khan. Oh, Khan. For a genetically engineered superhuman that's better in literally every way you seem pretty helpless. You're telling me with a 250 IQ, superhuman strength, the ability to basically ignore damage to your body AND the capability to resurrect yourself you can't handle one lowly human? "But Marcus has my crew members", you say. Well what do you do in a hostage situation? Here's a tip: You generally don't let the hostage takers leave and do whatever they want. All Khan had to do was temporarily disable Marcus's control over his crew members and then kill Marcus. Marcus's replacement, if there was one, probably wouldn't be as willing to sacrifice his life to kill Khan's crew members as Marcus was. I'm no genius and I figured out about 3 different ways for Khan to free himself.

In fact, that was one of the big disappointments in this movie for me, and bled into every aspect of the plot. Khan didn't do enough. The story was split between "the corruption of Starfleet" and "Khan the awesome supervillain". Pick one or the other, please. Never subscribe to the "three villains are better than 2" mentality. You divide up the storyline and wind up with 2/3 mediocre stories rather than one amazing one.

Speaking of dividing... I'll briefly discuss the holes in this movie besides, just, y'know, the whole premise.

In one of the iconic battle scenes, the Enterprise is in warp, and Marcus's ship starts fighting Kirk's ship in warp. Ok. Cool. Then something happens, though. Marcus's ship destroys Kirk's shields, blows a hole in the Enterprise, and it flips sideways. I'm no physics major, but I'm sorry, inertia dampeners or not, the forces of the universe would tear that ship into very very tiny pieces. Also I'm pretty sure all of the air and people would be sucked out of the ship, considering that it's, you know, moving at warp. Regardless of the "emergency bulkhead doors". You're welcome to write a physics treatise on the alternate laws of physics in Warp if you want to but I'm operating on something approaching reality.

There are a couple of other sketchy points too. At one point Kirk gets irradiated by entering the warp core and basically shoving it into place with his feet. He receives enough radiation (Over 100 REMs to be scientific) to make all his organs immediately fail. Then, a plot device is used (Khan's blood) to resurrect Kirk. One small problem, though... Kirk is still irradiated. Radiation has a half life of about 50-,10,000 years, depending on the type used. So I guess in the third Star Trek movie there's no Kirk because he has brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer etc? Or if Khan's blood magically removed the radiation, I guess it would be great to store quarts of that stuff so no one important can ever die...

Anyway enough venting. You can see that I didn't believe the storyline writing was exactly spectacular. Overall Plot Score: 3/10

Overall though, the rest of the movie makes up for the weak writing. There's enough shit blowing up to keep guys entertained all day long. There's also some romantic, if poorly written, bits in there for women with the occasional light/funny scene. Wow, that came off incredibly sexist. Oh well too late now. Inb4 male chauvinist pig comments.

Conclusion: I would definitely recommend seeing this movie. It's a summer blockbuster, and has special effects far beyond the already high bar set for those types of movies. It's a roller coaster ride. You're not there for the story of the ride. You're there for the ride. Recommendation: Watch it in theaters.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Florida Vacation!! :D

Hey all,

Just a quick update. On vacation in Sarasota, Florida! Woooo! I'll recommend a few restaurants from St. Armand's Circle and things then back to the beach:

1. Cha Cha Coconuts. Get the Calypso Chicken Wings & Onion Straws. Amazingnggggg Jamaican food. Calypso wings have a nuanced flavor and a residual heat that isn't overpowering. Onion straws are just yummy. Make sure you order extra sauce on the chicken wings if you're feeling brave or like a lot of heat.

2. Tommy Bahama's Macademia Nut Goat Cheese Mango Salsa appetizer. I wouldn't recommend the entrees, they're overpriced and only some of them are excellent. The goat cheese is the best I've ever had, ever. I'm a cheese nut so that's saying a lot.

3. Blue Dolphin Cafe. Best Eggs Benedict and Blintzes you'll ever have. Also, here's a secret: They do grilled butterscotch muffins, but only if you specifically request them. Same with blueberry muffins. A grilled butterscotch muffin is one of those things you have to try before you part this mortal plane.